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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Library Tales: Traction

A couple years back, there was a student who was pretty overdue with his book. It was Hulk: The Incredible Guide – this oversized, heavy, square-shaped book that explains everything in the Hulk-verse.

image1 500x375 Library Tales: Traction

Often, students will offer some explanation for the whereabouts of a long-overdue book. But Hulk: The Incredible Guide had been gone for months and this student hadn’t said a word.

So when the student came in with his class for book checkout, I was curious. It was a popular book that other kids were looking for. So I asked about it.

Student: It’s gone.

Me: What do you mean?

Student: It’s gone.


Student: My mom used it for traction.

Me: Traction?

Student: Yeah.

Me: What do you mean?

Student: We slid off the road into a snowbank and had to use it for traction.

Me: You put it under the wheel to get unstuck?

Student: Yeah. Traction.

image 3 500x375 Library Tales: Traction

Me: Did it work?

Student: Yeah.

image 4 500x375 Library Tales: Traction

And with that, we wiped the student’s slate clean. He needed the book way more than we did.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Mary Ann Scheuer says:

    We had the same gigantic book at our school library! It bit the dust, too — but nearly in such a dramatic way. Love this story. We all need books, just in different ways at different times.

  2. PragmaticMom says:

    The Incredible Hulk himself would be proud! Seems like the right book at the right time. Glad your student and his mom ended up ok!

  3. That is seriously funny. Thank you for my morning smile.

  4. Mike Lewis says:

    I’m sure the kid was psyched that you appreciated his situation.

  5. A true Michigander…
    Well done boy’s mom!
    And kuddos to his librarians for clearing the fine!

  6. A “read alike” suggestion, if you library is considering purchasing replacements: you might consider Mini Grey’s Traction Man series. :-)

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